After the recent postponements due to the inclement weather conditions it was with great excitement this match reporter made his way to Middleton Stoney as there was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly. Definitely a day for sun tan lotion as opposed to a thick woolly jumper which was a welcome relief to one and all.
Skipper Tim Riley had got to the ground in good time to complete the final preparations to the ground after a week of well organised preparation from the ground staff team. It was commented that there 4 hares spotted running across the ground which led to thoughts of quick run scoring on the ground which as always looked impeccable.
Middleton Stoney were to take the field and as the start of play drew near there was the realisation that the home team were 2 players short which led to some calls being made to see where the missing players were. From looking forward to playing to the feeling of this is going to be tough with 11 players, the thought was this may be a long afternoon in the field on a sunny afternoon.
Middleton Stoney welcomed Steeple Aston Cricket club which has been a long standing match within the fixture card who brought with them a full complement of players.
Messrs’ Pettit and Moorman were to open the bowling and in the second over Nick was unlucky not to take the first wicket of the day as a sharp chance was missed. Was this going to one of those afternoons?
As Steeple Aston made their way to 42 for 0 pretty effortlessly taking singles where there were gaps in the field due to non-attendance, the Middleton Spirit was feeling slightly flat. We were fortunate that after an hour in the field Paul Wordsworth was available to play thanks to a call from the chairman. Then a tight single was called and Tim Riley swooped on it and with a quick release to Jamie behind the stumps, the bails were removed. The much needed breakthrough was achieved with the Steeple Aston opener being run out for 20. Could this be the catalyst that was required?
One wicket quickly became 2 as Seril Shah’s tight wicket to wicket bowling caught the edge of the bat which was gratefully received by Jamie and the number 3 was back in the pavilion for 5. Middleton were on a roll as Nick got a well-deserved wicket as the number 4 batsmen was bowled for Zero. Simon then removed the remaining opener who managed to play onto his stumps and had scored 23.
Mike Simpson was now in the attack and an ill-fated sweep saw Paul take a fine catch and Steeple Aston found themselves 74 for 5.
There was further tight bowling which was backed up with great fielding from Squiff Wordsworth and runs were difficult to come by but the visitors had made their way to 101 with 30 minutes left till tea. Spirits were definitely lifted by this point and the usual banter was once again being shared and seeing the funny side of being asked to slip to point in the field and the umpire (to which we are truly grateful to have) asking the bowler how many balls were left in the over.
We then saw the Simon Pettit and Tim Riley show as the wickets fell very quickly and Steeple Aston finished on 110 runs with Simon take 3 further wickets to finish with 4 wickets for 35 runs off 12 overs and Tim taking 2 wickets for 12 runs of 6.4 overs.
Tea was taken early and it was a pleasure to sit in the sun but the discussions were beginning as we had to hit nelson (111) to achieve victory and low scoring totals have always been more challenging than they perhaps should be. With the boundaries feeling a long way away and the outfield slowing up this was going to be a challenge for the home side. However, confidence was high as we batted all the way down to Mike Simpson at number 10
Mr. Lancaster and the Skipper strode out confidently to the middle with Howard taking strike. We were also fortunate as one of the opposition had to follow the end of the Giro D’Italia and file a report (very different type of bike than my Mongoose BMX when I was younger) which meant Steeple Aston started with 10 in the field.
All of a sudden there was a cheer from the opposition and Tim had been bowled as the spinner who opened the bowling produced an exquisite arm ball to deceive our skipper. This brought Paul Wordsworth to the crease who nudged and nurdled a few until he was caught at square leg.
Middleton 21 for 2 as Mr Springer then joined Howard in the middle. After a few watchful overs and some singles taken Jon decided to take the aerial route to try and make the boundaries. There was one mighty blow for 6 and a few boundaries which meant there were welcome fluctuations in the run rate. Perhaps one attempt too many and a mistimed shot led to Jon being out for 27 and Middleton on 52 for 3
52 for 3 quickly became 52 for 4 as Squiff Worsdworth came and went without troubling the scorers. It was now down to our number 6 Jamie Lumb with which the timing was perfect as the final whistle had been blown and his beloved Blackpool football club had just been promoted to the championship. Full of joy he set about his batting and was very watchful.
Howard had manoeuvred his way to 18 and then was out LBW and Seril was not too far behind which left Middleton on 70 for 6.
By this time Jamie had got his eye in and was joined by Nick Moorman who started to increase the score steadily and any nerves were put to rest when as Middleton were close to the total there was a top edge and even if the fielder had 8 tentacles like an octopus he never looked like taking the catch and Middleton achieved the total and won by 4 wickets. Jamie played elegantly for his 35 not out and was ably supported by Nick who finished 15 not out.
A Middleton victory by 4 wickets.
With the fact that spectators were allowed back it almost felt like being back to normal as Middleton Park was basking in the Sunshine and beer was had after the game. As the spectators started to leave, Mike decided to talk through his karaoke repertoire which signalled the time to put the scorebox and the clubhouse to bed for another week.
Long may the weather be with us and the fact that we can have spectators watch the games in the beautiful surroundings.